Sarah looks at her phone for the hundredth time. No news from Nicole, who was supposed to meet her ten minutes ago. The smell of fresh coffee and pastries awakens her stomach, triggering a rumble. I could probably eat something while waiting, she thinks and steps into the cafe. The wooden floors, the velvet curtains, and the slow jazz create a cozy ambiance. While she patiently waits in line, debating over having a croissant or a cinnamon roll, a man sketching at one of the tables catches her attention. His beach tan, tribal tattoo, lost in his craft, would have aroused her not long ago, but now, nothing. Not even interested. She smiles to herself in an act of victory.
As she orders a chai latte and a croissant, a tap on her shoulder surprises her. The mysterious artist?
“Hello, beautiful.” The voice leaves a kiss on her cheek.
She turns and sees Nicole. “Perfect timing. Do you want to order with me? My treat.”
“Ooh, what’s the occasion?” Her friend teases. “I’ll take a cafe latte with a croissant too.”
Barely seated at the only available table, Nicole inquires, “So what’s the big news?” Her eyes wide open as it would help her hear better.
“I am going to a meditation retreat in Mexico next month.”
“Well, it’s a big deal because the theme is Brahmacharya, the practice of freedom from sexual thoughts and desires.”
Nicole almost spits her coffee, “What?”
“Seriously. I think I’ve changed. The Yoga workshop last month and then all the podcasts from Lotus studio transformed me. I am happy by myself.” She exclaims as she sits straighter. “ I am now free, with no interest in men.”
“So if Tom Hardy was showing up, like right now, and was asking you out, you wouldn’t budge and say no?”
“Exactly!” Sarah boasts.
It certainly is surprising since Sarah has been going from one relationship to another for the last five years. But there isn’t an ounce of doubt in Sarah’s mind. She will go to that retreat and deepen her sense of detachment, her mind fully present in the moment, free of desire.
As Sarah grabs her purse, her keys hit the floor. Her bag on one shoulder, the empty cup in the other hand, she kneels to retrieve the keys with the focus of an acrobat juggling with plates. On her way up, a torso blocks her path. The musky smell, the warmth, the hand on her arm set off an army of butterflies in her belly.
“I am so sorry.” The torso says.
When Sarah lifts her face to meet her encounter, she finds two hazel gems protected by long eyelashes. She cannot help but take a deep breath in to inhale all of him.
“No worries,” she manages to reply, her eyes locked in his.
In some far away world, Nicole giggles, “So what were you saying about this retreat?”